Stories from a Wanderer – Nothing Good is Too Small

When the big scary things in life seem to be overwhelming me, I almost always sit down to make big plans for change. Change this place, change that habit, change my job, try a new hobby, improve the house, improve my bank account, do more of this and even more of that.

But sometimes, it’s okay to remember something that my best friend’s slightly nutty Uncle Bill (we all have one, right?) said one day, all of a sudden, too loudly, disconnected from the conversation but with the confidence of sudden understanding: “Nothing good is too small!”

I tell this story because I had thought that in February I might do something a little bold, to shake things up: put a change of clothes and the dog in the car, drive north or south, depending on a whim, get a little lost, see where I wound up. A “Big Wander” if you will. I picked my weekend, set out my traveling clothes (layers being key). I even bought soda and sandwiches for the little cooler to cut down on expenses. But something in me was dreading it. It didn’t feel right, and for some reason I remembered: “Nothing good is too small.” A big trip wasn’t the answer.

Still, I wanted to at least try a different direction. Leaving the dog and the suitcase at home, I headed east northeast, towards the top of the Dallas area. I had one small destination in mind and one vague purpose. The purpose was to gain a sense of direction in that area; to “own” it, just a little. Dallas’s unique city planning always pulls me exactly where I am trying not to go; however, and this time was no exception. I remain unable to find a ramp onto the interstate, or even north, south, east and west in the DFW metroplex. Nonetheless, with a little bit of wandering and GPS, I managed to get where I wanted to be.

My destination was a place I’d heard about on the radio several months ago – bagel shop that had purportedly won a number of “best bagel” contests even against the big name New York delis. I mostly grew up outside of New York City, and in my memory every bagel of my youth was a good bagel, whether toasted and butter-soaked or cold with cream cheese and lox or noshed on whole in front of a Japanese monster movie on a Saturday morning. Every bagel since then has been a disappointment.

My hopes were high, but my expectations were low. I was also well aware that I was being manipulated by nostalgia, always a risky thing, but such a small risky thing. I set out and risked disappointment.

Texas is a surprising place. The little Lewisville (Dallas suburb) bagel shop (Starship Bagel) located in a very modest suburban strip mall, makes a gorgeous bagel: shiny, almost mahogany-hued, heavy for its size and the perfect size (large without being grotesque). It is dense, chewy, soft, with a boiled crust you need to tear into with your teeth. I opted for toasted, though it didn’t need to be, with generous but perfect portions of cream cheese and lox. The shop features a huge alien-green truck body, trendy-colored industrial lighting, exposed ceiling and stacks of flour along the walls. The back half is devoted to the bagel-making, which one can observe over a rail.

Very rarely is a trip down memory lane so fully satisfying. If I can find my way back, I will definitely go again.

My point; however, has less to do with the bagel and more to do with proportionality of risk and reward. My life has been pretty heavy lately; we’ve all been there. Maybe I’ve been trying to force big things to happen, to counterbalance. For now, I think I’ll remember Uncle Bill’s wisdom that something good is never too small – it’s just good.

greta ode
Greta Ode is currently enjoying “tiny house” living in Weatherford, Texas. She has been published in Flash Fiction Magazine and is an editor and contributor to Tandeta Journal. Her work can be found on Substack at “Ramble, Bramble.”

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